This is how my last week was spent, following my daughters and their animals around, making sure everyone was clipped, clean, and taken care of. I pulled my first all nighter since college, but this time it was in a dairy barn picking up poop. Yup, you read that right. Friday was the 4-H show, and instead of racing in, rewashing calves, we stay the night making sure they don’t get dirty. From Thursday through Saturday, I got about 5 hours of sleep.
And it’s not just me, that’s the crazy thing. We hang out with another couple who’s kids swim and show Brown Swiss, so I hung out with their dad and the two of us had a chance to talk, swap stories, and just relax. There’s a certain quiet and serenity that happens in a barn full of heifers. They are calm, there’s very little bellowing, it’s more the grumbly moos of contentment. Fans are turned down so the overall noise is much less too. There were three or four other people who spent the night in the barn as well.
The girls in the barn at night.
I’m adding all this in because as we’ve gotten dragged deeper and deeper into this culture (kicking and screaming I might add), there so many parallels with what we talk about in educations. As I watch the kids and parents moving around, they are so passionate about what they do. The amount of work that it takes to bring these animals in, feed them, water them, clean them, it’s amazing. We only have 5 animals we have to deal with, some hand as many as 12! That’s a TON of work.
These people are working in a constant state of change, one where feed mixes are tinkered with, where genetics are constantly watched, they seem to take it all in stride.
And finally, it’s about the relationships! How many times have we heard this in our own jobs?? Well, those who are showing much cultivate relationships: between their neighbors, with their kids, and with their animals as well! If you don’t have these relationships, it’s so much harder to work through this week! We helped clean up around our stalls, lent our some equipment, and cultivated our own relationships as we aren’t “famers” like many who are there. We love our animals, but goodness, no going be milking ANY time soon! 🙂
All in all, it was another successful fair. As you have a drink of milk, a bowl of ice cream, or a piece of cheese, just remember behind those products, there’s a story, and maybe a child, a former student, who cared about that animal. The cow that my daughter showed Friday and Saturday was our first heifer on our little place. We don’t milk her, so when it was time to calf, she went back to the dairy and my daughter doesn’t have the chance to see her much anymore. However, neither of them forgot each other, and they remember each other.
Remember, develop those relationships with your students. They won’t forget you either. 🙂